Finding the best dog muzzle for your dog should be a priority not only if you are training a dog to be a guard dog but also even if he or she would be an average pet at home. You can never predict the day or time when your dog will suddenly snap or become aggressive due to circumstances which they may not have encountered before. Training your dog to willingly wear a muzzle is important even for regular household dogs but to do this, you must find one that suits their needs and will also protect not only other people from getting bitten by them, but your dog as well.
The type of muzzle that you should get for your dog must be well-fitted and should address what your dog needs. Not all dogs possess the same strength or the same level of aggression so what would be suitable for a large and very aggressive dog may not do well with a smaller one that has a more calm temperament. To help deal with these kinds of dogs, see our guidelines on dog aggression and be informed.
Remember that a muzzle is not only for aggressive dogs; they are also needed for training, socialization, visits to the vet, and for obeying state laws as well. This is why a dog muzzle should never carry a stigma with it whenever a dog is seen wearing one.
Why introduce a muzzle to your dog?
There are different reasons why one should get a muzzle for their dog and not all of them are due to being aggressive. Here is a list of circumstances when a dog muzzle is especially useful:
- When treating injured dogs or those experiencing pain. A dog that is being attended to by emergency responders or even by their owners has the tendency to be defensive when they are in pain. Since accidents do not often occur and bruises and injuries are not a day to day occurrence, we cannot train a dog about how to behave when they are in such circumstances.
Thus, there are a lot of instances when a well-meaning pet parent or medical personnel had been bitten while giving first-aid or other medical help towards a dog. Due to these cases, most pet owners and other medical responders are encouraged to use a dog muzzle before providing first aid. An accidental pinching or grazing of a painful body part can definitely trigger a bite from a dog. When you get bitten , know what to do by reading these steps on dealing with dog bites.
- When introducing dogs to a public area. In order to keep our dog well-socialized, one of the most basic steps would be bring them to areas where they could meet a lot of other people and pets. At the first of course, one would need some protection just in case the dog becomes nervous and snappy when faced with strange people and dogs.
Take note that even a calm and well-behaved dog at home can first become apprehensive of such meetings especially if they have not experienced a lot of visitors at home. To prevent these dogs from attacking other people or pets because of nervousness, it would be best to try to fit a muzzle before going to a park or other public area. Also, dog socialization is necessary as we’ve written in a previous article, so ensure that you start early when your dog is still a pup.
- When you are bringing home a new dog or a new baby. This is especially important if you will be bringing home a more grown puppy or a dog of the same gender since it can trigger fights easily. Bringing home a new baby also poses a lot of risks since they are more vulnerable and even a soft bite can puncture their skin. To avoid any chances that they may be put in danger, it would be best to fit a muzzle during the first few days or weeks after bringing them home.
- When bringing your dog to the groomer or the vet’s office. Since these people are not that frequently seen by your dog, chances are they would regard them as strangers and may act hostile towards them if they try to touch your dog. The best way to avoid this is to put the dog in a muzzle while they perform their work.
Some vet’s offices and groomers have their own muzzles but it would be better if you could bring your pet already wearing something that they are already familiar with. Fabric and nylon mesh muzzles are often used due to their ability to close the dog’s mouth perfectly but these should never be used for more than 15 minutes at a time in order to prevent overheating: dogs cool their bodies off by panting.
- When the law requires it. Another great reason why you should train your dog to get used to a dog muzzle is that sometimes the law may require it from you. This can be due to a past incident when your dog showed some aggression or it could be that you have a breed which your state requires to be put in a muzzle whenever they are in public. These are often breeds which are considered to be very dangerous such as pit bulls and Rottweilers.
- When bringing home a new dog from a shelter. Most of the time, a dog coming from a shelter will have a background of abuse and neglect which can turn them into angry and aggressive dogs. The process of changing their behavior will take some time and the first day that you bring them home would definitely pose some challenges.
Since you are not sure about the dog’s behavior, it would be important to put them on a muzzle not only to protect your family but your dog’s future as well. Remember that there are states that require a dog to be put to sleep if they bite another pet or human being. Avoiding such events will help you train and keep your dog much longer.
What are the different types of dog muzzles?
It is important to understand that not all dog muzzles are the same. Some are made of sturdier materials for more aggressive dog training while others are made of weaker fabrics that are merely aimed at keeping a calm dog’s mouth shut.
Knowing which type of muzzle to use for a specific activity or occasion will help keep not only other people safe but your dog as well. Here is a list of some types of dog muzzles that you can find in the market.
Police-type dog muzzle
As its name indicates, it is usually used for training dogs that will be in the police force. What is remarkable about this type of muzzle is its durability and safety. These are made of leather with a basket-design at the snout in order to protect the dog’s mouth whenever they try to attack or bring down an enemy. Since the leather is soft and pliable, impacts are not that painful and the basket-design also allows them to breathe heavily despite the muzzle.
It also has a piece of metal which runs vertically at the front to help maintain the shape of the muzzle. They are very reliable in that they have metal buckles so they cannot be easily removed by aggressive behavior or by dogs clawing them off. The only downside to this type is that it is the most expensive of the lot and can be a bit difficult to afford.
Even though these look a bit similar to police-types of muzzles, they lack the other features that they possess. These types of muzzles are mainly created to stop or restrain a dog from biting and so they are not as reliable as the police type. The “weaved” design of this muzzle encloses the whole mouth of the dog but also allows for more airflow, panting, drinking and giving of treats. Hence, these are considered to be the most humane type of muzzle for a dog.
You will find a variety of materials for this type of muzzle:
- These are suitable for those who have dogs that are not very aggressive. Since they are made of weaker materials, the dog may be able to break them. It is also not recommended if your dog has a known allergy to plastics. The cheaper costs of these types of muzzle make them attractive to dog owners who only want a more basic type of muzzle for their pets. They also come in various colors and look more attractive than metal ones.
- This is made of a more reliable material and is the best protection if you have a more aggressive dog. The metal basket will not easily break and they are sturdier in case your dog tries to smash it against a wall or on the floor. The downside to this type of muzzle though is that they tend to freeze or heat up with temperature extremes thus posing some health threat to your dog. Aside from that, the hardness of the material will make it possible for your dog to hurt another person or dog just by banging their mouths over their “enemy.”
- This is somehow the midway between plastic and metal and this provides a comfortable experience for the dog. The rubber material provides a soft impact if your dog ever hits it to something and it will not heat up or freeze in extreme weather. It is more durable than plastic as well.
Jafco dog muzzles
These types of muzzles are made of durable plastic and feature a more solid look than the basket design. The snout area is made of solid plastic with holes which are big enough to provide ease of breathing and drinking. One of its best features is that they are lightweight that they will not likely chafe your dog’s skin. They also come with a transparent design so you can easily see how your dog is feeling through their facial expressions. Since they cover the mouth area pretty well and are made of durable material, you can definitely rely on the Jafco to prevent any bites.
Fabric or nylon mesh muzzles
These are also called occlusion types of muzzles since they tend to shut the mouth of the dog close. What is good about these muzzles is that they are made of fabric and so are very comfortable on the skin of your dog. They are not easy to “claw” off as well since they lay close to the skin. They are also very portable and easy to carry anywhere with you since you can just fold them up into a tiny piece of cloth.
The bad side of using this, however, is that they tend to restrict a dog’s ability to pant or breathe heavily which is how they cool off their bodies. Hence, your dog will eventually overheat if it is left on for an extended period of time. These are recommended only for short needs such as when visiting the groomer or the vet. Remove the muzzle immediately after the procedure. Find out how dog panting benefits your pooch in our past article.
I think this deserves to be a separate type since their design is different from traditional dog muzzles and they also have an added fun feature to them. Since they are made from silicone, the muzzles can be molded into any shape and one of the most notable is the duck bill-shaped ones. The design is somewhat similar to an occlusion muzzle but they allow for more freedom of opening the mouth so dogs can still pant while wearing them. Their colorful and fun designs can make a walk in the park more child-friendly as kids will be able to enjoy their funny shapes.
For your furry friend, see our list of topnotch dog muzzles that are reliable and very effective.
What are the things to remember when using dog muzzles?
Dog muzzles can pose harm to your dog. And it is very important to remember some tips for muzzle training. And it can harm other people if not handled and used properly so it is important also to remember these points:
- Never use a muzzle for an extended period of time. Even though there are some brands that state that you can use them for a whole day, the fact is that your dog is a living and breathing organism and so they have to make the most of their snouts. Putting on a muzzle for hours can expose your dog to bacterial accumulation since they will be poking that muzzle in places where these are present and they can also lead your dog to feel frustrated and annoyed either due to the weight or unnatural presence of the muzzle in their mouth.
- Never leave a dog unattended if they have a muzzle on. There are several reasons why you should never a leave a dog with a muzzle on. First, it can get tangled with anything and put your dog at risk. Second, it can accidentally restrict your dog’s breathing by tightening up on the snout. Third, they may try to get the muzzle off and scratch their faces seriously or break their nails. Fourth, which applies to occlusion muzzles, is that your dog will overheat because they cannot pant.
- Train your dog to get used to a muzzle before actually using them. One of the common mistakes that dog owners do is to try to fit a muzzle forcefully into a dog the first time. This is not a very good idea since it can traumatize the dog and it can have serious consequences such as aggression towards other people who try to touch their mouth. Emotionally, this is not healthy for a dog and it can scar them for life.
- Find a muzzle that fits well on your dog. It is not that easy to tell whether a muzzle will fit a dog perfectly until they have personally tried it on. There should be at least 1 to 1.5 cm of distance between the edge of a basket muzzle and your dog’s muzzle. The mouth should also be slightly open when measuring the height or circumference of the dog’s snout. The strap that attaches to the neck of your dog should also allow one finger to be inserted in between.
- Never use muzzles as a “treatment” for dog anxiety or dog aggression. Dogs which have behavioral problems such as aggressiveness and anxiety should always be trained and treated properly. A dog muzzle is not a type of treatment for these problems as your dog will remain and act the same especially when the muzzle accidentally breaks or loosens. Find a professional dog trainer or behaviorist in order to address problems like these.
The choice to put a dog muzzle on your pet should be done with a thorough understanding and careful consideration of what your dog really needs. Dogs which have a higher tendency to become aggressive should be fitted with more durable muzzles in order to maintain the safety of you and other people around you. Together with this need for safety however comes the need to consider your dog’s needs as well.
They should be able to breathe and cool off efficiently, be protected from strong impacts, secured from extremely hot or cold muzzles, and provided with the best preparation for muzzles in order to avoid any traumatic experience.
If you need an inexpensive muzzle, see our tutorials on how to to make an easy dog muzzle that’s simple and durable, too.